Ryman Healthcare is collaborating with food production company Food Nation, a supplier of plant-based products that will go into dishes on Ryman retirement villages’ new spring menu.
There are many thousands of residents in 36 villages in New Zealand and Victoria that already benefit from the healthy and varied choices on the ‘Ryman Delicious’ menu. Kiwi start-up Food Nation is focused on supplying quality plant-based products, that showcase fresh ingredients such as mushrooms, capsicum, kiwi quinoa and corn. Ryman is taking on these products to create new recipes that ensure food delivered to the plate tastes great.
Andrew Gibson, Ryman's Hotel Services Manager, said by taking on ingredients that are less processed than others, Ryman meals will continue to be big on taste and nutritional value. This is part of looking after the overall health of our residents.
“We’re very keen that our food tastes good and packs a punch with flavour.”
Ryman Delicious is all about creating appealing menus packed with new choices, vegetarian choices plus plenty of the old favourites. Increasingly ‘non-vegetarian’ village residents are taking up a vegetarian option once or twice a week. Gibson said as it was once pointed out to him by an Edmund Hillary resident, vegetarian options need to be well thought out and include enough protein. Hemp and pea protein are two options used to ensure Food Nation products have sufficient protein for use in aged care as well as containing all the whole food nutrition found in plants.
Matt Orr, Ryman Food Services Training and Development Chef, has been working on some recipes for the new menu that launched late September.
“We are really excited about partnering with Food Nation – their products both taste good and deliver on the nutrition requirements which is important for our residents.
“They give us more options for vegetarian, vegan and dairy-free dishes, but we think residents who are looking to eat less meat will like them too.
“Food Nation’s products such as Magic Minces, are versatile and packed with flavour. We are currently developing ideas in our test kitchen for our spring menu,” said Orr.
Miranda Burdon, the team at Food Nation, including her sister and fellow director Josie Lambert, use a lot of fresh New Zealand ingredients and really celebrate the plant ingredients as the stars of their products. This transparency and the fact they are in well-known formats like minces, patties and balls means that consumers will find them easy to use in meals they are already cooking. Nutrition and balanced food choices are particularly important when it comes to the aged care sector.
The healthy food packages, based on customer requests, were designed to be well balanced with relatively low fat, high fibre, low sugar and include protein and carbohydrate levels that are both filling and support a healthy balanced diet.
"We’re proud Ryman Healthcare has started with one of our company’s first products, Magic Mince. The name came about to reflect the fact they can be cooked like mince and used like mince but are made entirely of plants - it has to be magic," said Burdon.
There are two types of Magic Mince so far, mushroom and hemp and Mexican corn and capsicum varieties. These and other products are produced in the Auckland commercial kitchen at St John's from ingredients generally sourced from around New Zealand.
“You can see the ingredients in the products when you cook them with visible pieces of corn, capsicum, onions, leeks and mushrooms. Delivering on this expectation of showcasing the ingredients as well as supporting dietary requirements are all key to providing a great-tasting food solution that actually could be used as a meat alternative,” said Burdon.
Burdon is quick to point out though, these products are a celebration of plants, not fake meat and are about providing people with a choice.
“Our products are for omnivores and carnivores, vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians – we think of them as ‘Food for All’.”
Ryman keeps investing in its food delivery options and has recently recruited three regional ‘Lead Chefs’ to ensure food and menu changes flow through as smoothly as possible into Ryman kitchens.